Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s release must pave the way for resumption of political processes, which have remained largely in limbo since the region was divested of statehood and Article 370 nullified. Mehbooba’s continued detention after the release of the Abdullahs had raised eyebrows. However, her release came just ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on her daughter’s petition alleging illegal detention. This doesn’t indicate that the J&K administration has worked out a political deal with her.
Mehbooba took to social media almost immediately to castigate Centre on the August 5, 2019, decisions. With a sizeable domestic constituency still blaming the mainstream Valley parties for their plight, both the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party are on a weak wicket. Both NC-PDP and the political alternatives that are struggling to articulate a post-Article 370 vision for the Valley would fare better with the reinstatement of statehood, which the Centre hasn’t ruled out.
A comprehensive economic package, and allowing resumption of 4G services could help break the political stalemate and change popular sentiment. With China turning aggressive in Ladakh, it is important to foil Pakistan’s objectives in the Kashmir Valley. Free and fair elections are important in this regard and police and security forces must ensure that attempts by militants to target politicians are foiled.